This Friday will see world leaders from across the globe head to Normandy to mark seventy years since the D-Day landings, commemorating the lives lost liberating Western Europe from Nazi reign.
Beginning on the 6th June 1944, the D-Day landings saw over 75,000 Allied troops descend upon the beaches of Normandy by air and sea, aiming to recapture Western Europe from German occupation. By deceiving the Nazi forces with a decoy mission targeted at the Pas de Calais, the Allies were able to lure all but 14 of the 58 German divisions in France away from Normandy, allowing British and Canadian troops to claim multiple victories along the coast.
While it would take almost another year for the formal end of WW2 on Victory in Europe Day, with many hard-fought battles along the way as troops moved inland, the D-Day landings mark a pivotal turning point in the Allies’ victory.
Now, seventy years later, modern society is set to pause for a moment to consider the lessons of these fateful days and pay tribute to the countless soldiers who sacrificed their lives to secure our freedom. Seventeen heads of state including President Obama, German chancellor Angela Merkel and the Queen will be present at a number of special ceremonies taking place across the Normandy region on Friday.
As a poignant end to the day’s events, the Normandy Veterans Association will also enact its final parade shortly before sunset at Arromanches, before the association, whose surviving members have dropped below 1000, disbands in November.
Having visited the momentous sites of Normandy on numerous occasions while road-testing WST’s WW2 school history trips, the WST team truly understands the powerful emotions these locations can evoke in visitors, keeping history’s lessons alive.
As we feel it is crucial for teachers to convey the significance of the D-Day landings to the younger generation, WST will be sharing updates from Friday’s ceremonies via Twitter, along with related learning resources to use within the classroom.